Rhubarb is a vegtable

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun . . . and no I am not aking this up. Rhubarb is a vegetable. It is also a good source of calcium, Potassium and vitamin C. I grow Rhubarb and have put it in pies, jam, jelly, rhubarb cake, rhubarb sauce and rhubarb crisp. Each of those recipes need a lot of sugar.

Rhubarb can also be used to make salsa. I have found a few recipes. It makes sense because if you add enough pepper it probably tastes like pepper. I might also try roasted rhubarb and rhubarb butter which isn’t butter at all but is made with rhubarb, honey and orange juice and can be used as a sauce for pork or chicken. I may try it as a barbecue sauce or marinate or glaze the next time I grill chicken.

The best way to find new, exciting, nutritious or tasty recipes that include rhubarb is by asking Google.

Eventually I will have to make rhubarb pie or cake because I can.

Growing rhubarb is easy and it is fun and can be one of the many joys of homeownership. Even on my inner city postage stamp sized lot I am able to grow a nice rhubarb crop.

Rhubarb

 

touring houses with buyers

One of my favorite things to do is to tour homes that are for sale with buyers. I have always enjoyed the house hunting process and I am lucky that I get to do it often.

When touring houses home buyers should:

1.  Wear slip-on shoes

2.  If you plan on bringing the family make sure everyone visits the restroom before you go house hunting.  Vacant houses don’t always have the water turned on.

3. Keep an eye on your children.

4. Do not take pictures or video of the home without the owner’s permission.

This is the list for agents:

  • Leave your business card in the house after the showing as a courtesy to the seller, unless showing instructions ask you not to leave a card.
  • Make sure you’ve confirmed the showing so you or your clients are not waiting or turned away
  • If the showing gets canceled or postponed, let the listing office know immediately so the seller can be contacted
  • Stay within the appointment time frame.
  • Use your own app or e-key to open the property for a showing
  • Take your shoes off before you start the showing — a good sign of respect to the current homeowner
  • View the home together with your potential buyer — avoid letting them roam the home by themselves
  • Never allow buyers to enter a property unaccompanied
  • Honor the listing agent’s relationship with the seller and encourage the seller to direct all questions to his or her agent
  • Have a listing sheet ready with all the info of the property for buyers to easily refer back to. (I have it all on my phone)
  • Respect your client by limiting your use of cell phones or computers to the business a hand
  • Don’t allow anyone to eat, drink, smoke, dispose of trash or bring pets into the property
  • Double check that all doors & windows are locked before you leave the property
  • Report any problems with the property to the Listing Agent

I would add to this that agents should knock on the door first.  I try to remember to do that.  You just never know when there is a miscommunication. Earlier this week I was touring a home and there was someone in it. I had knocked first.

It is important to remember that homes for sale are someone else’s private property and that people may be living in the home.

Sunny three season porch

Using a reverse mortgage to purchase a home

Maybe you have heard of reverse mortgages. They are not a scam but there are reverse mortgage scams.The youngest borrower in the household must be at least 62 and the homeowners must have a lot of equity.

The reverse mortgage is exactly as it sounds. Instead of making a house payment every month the mortgage company sends the homeowners a check. There are no mortgage payments. The mortgage is due when the home is sold or when the owners die.

The reverse mortgage is a way to unlock the equity that might be tied up in real estate.

Reverse mortgages can also be used to purchase a home. They do require a down payment and the youngest borrower must be at least 62. The borrows must have a lot of equity or own the home outright and have good credit ratings. On loans for purchases, buyers must have the resources to pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, and association dues if applicable.

Reverse mortgages can also be used for home improvements. Sometimes people want to stay in their home and age in place but the home needs some upgrades to make it more senior friendly.

Talk to your bank or lender if you are interested in any of these programs and learn more. There is also counseling for people who choose a reverse mortgage. For more general information visit the HUD.gov web site and read about reverse mortgages.

Sellers, view love letters with caution

butterfly
Monarch butterfly

an offer on your home will be accompanied by a “love letter”.  There isn’t anything wrong with a love letter as long as the letter is mainly about the house and how much the buyers like the property.

Buyers could make an offer and include a letter about how much they like the house and admire the gardens and love the neighborhood. I once had a seller who accepted an offer mainly because of a love letter.

Usually, those love letters never make it to my home seller clients. I ask them if they want to see the letter and encourage them to say no. Why would I do that? Because I am concerned about fair housing violations. If a seller chooses one offer over another based on the family status of the offerer or how the buyer looks that might be a fair housing violation.

As a real estate broker and agent, I can not help any of my clients discriminate against anyone who wants to buy a house.

Usually, when I explain fair housing to my clients they decide not to view the buyer’s love letter.

Buyers who choose to write these letters should omit pictures of themselves and their families and focus on the house they are making an offer on. They may want to include personal information about where they work or what they do for a living.

When the buyers do not know the sellers they can put information in the love letter that has a negative impact.  Maybe the house is on the market because of a death or divorce or financial problems.

I meet homeowners who tell me their home should be sold to someone who will fill it with children. Choosing a buyer based on family status is a fair housing violation.

Learn more about fair housing

Real estate sales are brisk

It was a busy weekend for home sales. Right now there are about 25% more homes on the market than there were last month. In this case, 25% is about 100 homes. The inventory of homes for sale is still very low, like around 450. If there were twice as many homes on the market in St. Paul we would still have a scarcity of homes for sale.

The west 7th neighborhood is particularly hot. I put a house on the market on Thursday afternoon and we had two offers by Saturday afternoon and a third offer came in early Sunday morning.

All offers were for more than the asking price and I am still waiting for the for-sale sign.

Buyers are more likely to have a winning offer if they can put at least 5% down and can pay their own closing costs. My advice is to be pre-approved for a home loan and save up money to pay closing costs and for a down payment.

Home sellers who have three bedrooms, two baths and have a home that is free of clutter and in good repair are the most likely to sell quickly with multiple offers. The home also has to be priced right.

Home buyers are finding the process frustrating. It is becoming common to make offers on a few houses before getting an offer accepted. For what it is worth real estate agents also find this frustrating as we go around town writing offers that get rejected.

As a broker, I am required to keep the offers we make or receive that do not get accepted by the other party. I have to say my dead offer file getting bigger and bigger.

More homes on the market should help and there has been a slow climb in the number of homes for sale.

696 James avenue

biking through the woods

It is Friday and Fridays are for fun. My bike, the woods, and my camera are three of my favorite things. Last Sunday I got to take a bike ride through Lilydale Regional Park which is where the birds and flowers live.

Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-winged blackbird

I also saw a great blue heron and a couple variety of finch and some bald eagles. I also saw some turtles, geese, ducks and one fat turkey.

I have been interested in bird photography for some time but have a hard time fitting it in.  Houses are easier to photograph because they don’t move around.

Bird photography is particularly challenging on Sunday afternoons because of all the bike and car traffic. Bikes don’t make much noise but I often hear the riders by the time they are within a quarter mile of where I am bird watching.

I do enjoy the river and the parkland along it. Biking or walking are the best ways to take it all in.

Have a great weekend. Don’t scare the birds away.